Just got off the calls with Dean Lombardi, Jarret Stoll and Matt Greene. I’ll be posting full quotes throughout the day, but here are some highlights…
– The word Lombardi used repeatedly with the two new players was “competitiveness.” It’s a big quality he sees in both of them and a primary motivator for the trade, along with the desire to get younger at two positions and acquire two NHL-ready players who have the potential to be part of the organization for a long time.
– Lombardi is confident that a short-term deal with Rob Blake will be reached soon.
– Lombardi spoke highly of Visnovsky and said he’s confident that Visnovsky will be a top “second-tier” defenseman. He hinted that part of Visnovsky’s struggles might have come from pressing and trying to improve a struggling team last season.
– Prior to the trade, the Kings did not negotiate an extension with Stoll. They would like to sign him to a long-term deal.
– Roughly 30 coaching candidates have contacted the Kings. Lombardi, once again, stated that he will wait until after free agency dies down before he seriously starts looking at candidates.
– Lombardi said that Visnovsky’s representatives were well aware that a trade was possible, especially since there had been talks of a trade for the last couple weeks. (As an aside, I have no interest in publishing translated “quotes” from Visnovsky. Last summer, after the huge uproar about the “communist” comments, Visnovsky told me he never even spoke to that reporter in question).
– As far as free agency, the Kings are unlikely to sign a forward now that they have Stoll but will likely look at two defensemen, Blake being one. He’s not looking at five- or six-year contracts for defensemen; more like two or three years, it sounds like.
– The Kings are still talking to O’Sullivan’s representatives, but when I asked if anything was “close,” Lombardi said he wouldn’t use that term. Jeff Solomon, the Kings’ top guy on such matters, is working on this.
– For the first time ever, Lombardi raised the possibility of signing a “bridge” goalie to a one-year contract. He also, however, hedged his bets considerably on this and said he wanted to look at Bernier, Quick and Zatkoff during the prospects camp to see if one of them is ready to back up LaBarbera.
That’s all for now. I’ll post extensive comments from Lombardi, Stoll and Greene throughout the afternoon.